Savvy Money: Sign up to a gym contract as supple as you aim to be
If your resolution to fight the flab weakens, the only pounds you lose may be in health club bills
Saturday 04 January 2014
Did you make some New Year's resolutions this year? Many of us vow to eat more healthily, spend less and exercise more – at least for a few weeks! So if you're thinking of signing up with your local gym to improve your fitness, make sure you check the contract before you join.
Until fairly recently, gyms were notorious for having contracts that even the most supple of gymnasts would struggle to wriggle out of.
But a clampdown by the Office of Fair Trading has made contracts more user-friendly. However, you can still be caught out if you don't know what to look for.
Check that you will get a seven-day cooling-off period (and make sure this is in writing or in the contract). If there isn't one, don't sign up unless you are 100% happy with your decision.
Most privately-run gyms cost a minimum of £30 a month, and you could pay over £80 a month if you want to be able to use all the gyms in the network. If you change your mind within the seven days, you can cancel the contract without paying any fees, as long as you haven't used the gym.
Gym contracts shouldn't be for more than 12 months or, if they are, you should be able to cancel the contract after the first 12 months with 30 days' notice. Most gyms offer rolling monthly contracts as an alternative (although they usually cost more).
If you sign up to a 12-month contract, you can generally cancel in the first year only if your circumstances change (loss of job, ill health etc), or if, for example, the gym increases its prices significantly.
Cancelling your contract
You will usually have to give 30 days' notice if you want to cancel your contract, whether it is for annual membership or on a rolling monthly basis.
But if you don't cancel your annual contract at the right time, you may find you pay an extra month's membership, as some gyms will cancel your membership from the first day of the month only after they get your cancellation notice.
You should always cancel a contract in writing (unless the gym asks you to cancel by a different method) and send the letter by recorded delivery.
If you're asked to cancel in person or over the phone, send an email or letter to confirm.
Change of circumstances
If you lose your job, move house, are ill, become pregnant or suffer severe financial hardship, you should be able to cancel a 12-month contract early. But check what you have to do.
For example, you will usually have to provide a doctor's note if you are ill or evidence that you have moved house, and most gyms will simply transfer your membership if one of their branches is within ten miles of your new home.
Closure of facilities
If the gym no longer offers the facilities you signed up for, there is no guarantee you will be able to cancel your membership. So if you are thinking of joining a gym because it does early-morning classes, for example, or because it has a crèche, it is worth asking if you can cancel your membership if these facilities are no longer offered (and get confirmation in writing).
I have looked at a couple of contracts that say the gym doesn't have to provide the services at a particular time and that you would be able to get out of your contract only if the gym you've signed up for closed for more than 30 days at a time for repairs or refurbishment.
Do you need to join a gym?
Of course, you may not need to join a private gym at all. Start by seeing what your local council offers. You may not get a gleaming reception area or fluffy towels, but it could be more budget-friendly. Otherwise, there are pay-as-you-go options such as PureGym, open 24/7, where you can buy a day pass or pay per month, or PayasUgym, which has about 1,500 gyms in its network, where you can buy day, bundled or monthly passes.
Think carefully before signing up for a 12-month gym contract as many people stop going to the gym after a few months. Make sure you know when you can cancel, and check out non-contract alternatives.
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let’s see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
- 3 Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014: In defence of Mesut Ozil - the Arsenal midfielder works magic in the shadows
- 4 Pornhub pleads with users to stop uploading videos of Brazil 'getting f**ked by Germany' in the World Cup
- 5 Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...
£300 - £380 per day: Orgtel: Financial Planning Manager, Banking , London, £30...
£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fina...
Day In a Page
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay
A three-bedroom farmhouse with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed beams